Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The Elven Bride」Part 1
When the new day arrived, the dim clouds from yesterday had been completely blown away. The smell of the tide and the peculiar scent of the harbor were carried along the wind.
Opening the inn’s window shutters, I could hear the sounds of the city outside. The sun had been up for a while now.
After doing a bit of calisthenics to loosen up my stiff body, I folded up my black cloak and placed it into my luggage sack. Since this job required me to act as Ariane’s guardian I decided not to wear it. I’d be attracting more attention but there was no help for it.
Ponta had already woken up and was looking at me in confusion.
“Well, let’s see if we can get a proper meeting. Ready to go, Ponta?”
Ponta replied as she used wind magic to lightly to leap from the bed and fly to her usual spot on my helmet.
I had intended to call out for Ariane, who was in the room next door, but we managed to step into the hall simultaneously.
“Good morning, Arc. You’re a little more noticeable than usual.”
“That’s because today, I’m Ariane-dono’s guard.”
After exchanging our morning greetings the two of us left the inn.
Since I asked around yesterday, our inn was located closer to the center of town rather than the southern gate we came through. I wasn’t long after we left the inn that we reached the first waterway. The road continued south parallel to the waterway, and after crossing the bridge we entered the old town district.
Unlike the newer districts sandwiched between the first and second waterways, the houses of the old town district had been weathered by decades of history. The houses were also larger than those of the other districts and the streets were more spacious as well.
Eventually, the street we walked on went on an uphill incline, a large rampart, and gate could be seen at the end of the road. Behind the wall and rampart, a tall castle spread out before my eyes. In front of the gate stood a row of seasoned guards that were glaring at anyone in the area.
As we approached the gate, I began walking in front of Ariane as the guards corrected their posture and shifted to high alert.
“Excuse me, but I’d like to request a meeting with the woman that became lord Petro’s wife.”
One of the guards stepped forward and evaluated us from top to bottom before his eye stopped on my helmet. Seeing the doubt in his eyes reminded me of who was openly sitting on my head. While I had a passing thought of taking Ponta off my head, the guard gave us a dubious look as he asked for our identities.
“Sorry, but who are you people?”
“We are messengers from the Great Canada Forest. Again, I request a meeting with the lord’s bride.”
The guard we’d been talking to tilted his head in confusion at our introduction and raised an eyebrow as he opened his mouth to speak. However, before he could say anything, another guard ran up from beside the gate and whispered something in his ear.
“If you’re an elf as you say, remove your helmet and prove it.”
The person that had whispered into the guard’s ear glared at me. Ariane, who had been watching this exchange from the rear stepped forward and lowered her cloak’s hood.
Her silver hair shined under the sun’s rays and a stray gust of wind caused it to dance in the breeze. The guards held their breath as they gazed at her smooth lilac skin, golden eyes, and pointed ears. It wasn’t only the guards that were shocked, because those who had been watching the exchange voiced a simultaneous gasp.
“I am Ariane Glenys Maple, a messenger from the Great Canada Forest. I request a meeting with the lord’s wife.”
Her blunt self-introduction left the entire street in a state of shock. The guards stared at one another, wondering what they should do, before one of them rebooted their brain and started giving out orders.
“Report this to the lord!”
One of the guards acted as the messenger and ran through a small door next to the gate. I could only shrug my shoulders as I watched the series of exchanges unfold.
Ariane looked at the state of the guards for a bit before putting her hood back on and stepping back.
While the messenger ran to the lord, I turned back to the guards and wondered if they’d have us wait in front of the gate. Even though were called ourselves messengers, it was true that we came unannounced, so all I could do was sigh in my heart and wait.
After a while, a command was given on the other side of the gate and soon after the sound of the rampart rising could be heard. The guard that had acted as messenger saluted us when he returned and presented the reply.
“Lord Petro is willing to meet with you!”
The guards moved to the left and right sides of the gate to open the way.
Though I was the one that proposed the idea, I never expected we’d get a meeting with the feudal lord so easily. Perhaps Ariane’s presence alone held great persuasive power, considering that elves rarely appeared in human cities.
An older gentleman came from within the gate and offered us a respectful bow. When he raised his head he looked both of us over before politely asking me a question.
“Are you the guard perhaps?”
When I nodded at this, the gentlemen nodded in return and urged us to enter. I turned to Ariane and signaled for her to pass through the gate first while I brought up the rear.
We followed the gentlemen through a large courtyard and entered the towering castle’s atrium. The floors were made of polished marble and a mural was etched into the walls. A large decorative chandelier hung in the center of the room that was lined with gorgeously sculpted pillars.
There were stairways to the second floor on both sides of the room.
Smaller versions of the courtyard we had passed through could be viewed from the second-floor windows before the hall continued farther into the castle. We were led to an absurdly large room and told by the gentlemen to wait here while he brought his master.
The furniture was rather luxurious and arranged in an elegant way that reflected the owner’s social status. The gap in financial standing between Buranbeina’s mansion and this castle is palpable.
I moved to stand behind a sitting Ariane with my arms folded over my chest. I always had the image of diplomats being rather bossy, but could I be wrong?
While I thought about fixing my posture, a man and woman came through a back door and rigidly stood in front of us. The older gentleman was back as well.
The man who entered was probably the feudal lord. He had a European appearance and was laughing wryly as he brushed his blonde bangs away from his blue eyes. He had a strangely white smile that gleamed in the light and the slightly pretentious aura he gave off made him seem more like an actor than a feudal lord.
When the man tried to walk forward, he stopped and flashily turned around.
Why did he turn around?
While doubts began running through my mind, he turned back around and managed to choke out an introduction.
“Did you have to wait long? I’m this region’s feudal lord, Petros De Lanbaltic. I’m twenty years old and recently married!”
The man who introduced himself as Lord Petros opened up like a blooming flower, smiling brilliantly and spreading out his arms. He had an atmosphere like a prince from a shoujo manga. Basically everything about him made the introduction rather strange.
When Petros stepped in front of the dumbfounded Ariane, he kneeled before her and took her hand.
“Well well, to think that the messenger would be this beautiful. Welcome to our castle……”
The women who had entered alongside Petros interrupted our warm welcome with a dry cough. She wore a long, light green evening dress and she had the elven characteristics of long ears, blonde hair with a green tint, and green eyes. Her tall but slender figure and fair skin were complimented by her dress.
As far as I could tell she didn’t seem to be forced into anything. She walked up to lord Petros with a hauntingly calm smile on her face.
When Petros noticed her interruption, he slowly stood up and offered her his most dazzling smile yet.
“Sorry, Teresa. Your beauty is unmatched of course! But all women in the world are beautiful and I ask that you forgive me for my need to praise every gorgeous flower I see.”
While using some exaggerated mannerisms in his apology, Petros lightly grasped Teresa’s hand and kissed the back of it. This guy is quite the eccentric person.
As if she was used to his strange behavior, Teresa simply shrugged her shoulders and turned back to us.
“Thank you for coming, I never expected a messenger from Maple to come to this far off place. I am Teresa. Now Teresa Darine Lanbaltic.”
She took a seat in the chair opposite to Ariane as she spoke. Like a diligent husband Petros happily pulled Teresa’s chair out before taking a seat himself.
I tried to imitate his actions and moved to pull out Ariane’s seat, but she quickly sat down by herself. The person in question acted as if it didn’t matter and proceeded to introduce ourselves to the two of them.
“I am Ariane Glenys Maple, nice to meet you. The one behind me is my guard, Arc.”
“Arc, you say. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
After offering us a polite head bow, Teresa looked at me with curiosity. Ponta was currently beneath my mantle so she shouldn’t be visible. I wonder if something else caught her attention.
“Well, well, an elven knight. A knight whose beauty overshadows all others.”
Petros smiled and chuckled as he looked at me. I see, they had been captivated by the extravagance of 『Belenus’ Holy Armor』. That is, until they caught sight of Ponta popping up on my shoulder.
Teresa looked as if she wanted to say something, but Ariane stepped in to take control of the conversation.
“I’ll get straight to the point, from what I understand you married the feudal lord……”
Her golden eyes were directly on Teresa. Understanding the hidden meaning in the statement, Teresa lightly chuckled before looking a Petros.
“Yes, that’s the truth. We married each other about a month ago. Though there were various circumstances involved……”
Teresa and Petros naturally held hands on the table. While the two of them dove into their own little world, Ariane stared at the sight in utter confusion.
It seemed like the two could stay forever in that world of theirs.
“We are in pursuit of elf slave traders. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you were brought here as a captive, weren’t you?”
Ariane’s question managed to break through the pair’s lovey-dovey atmosphere.
At her inquiry, the pair released each other’s hands and corrected their posture.
“So you weren’t messengers after all. You’re warriors sent out on a rescue mission.”
Instead of being shocked at that revelation, Teresa was nodding in understanding.
“That is correct……. I was indeed captured by slave traders and brought to Lanbaltic after I had been sold.”
Her eyebrows drooped as her mind wandered back to those days.
“My father, the previous lord, was the one who bought her. I could hardly believe that he could violate the kingdom’s hard-won treaty with such ease.”
Petros must have heard the distress in Teresa as he feebly lowered his head along with making a self-mocking sneer. Teresa looked at him with a worried expression.
“Wait. What became of the former lord that bought you, Londes De Lanbaltic?”
Ariane shook her head in confusion as she demanded an explanation. However, Petros was the one that answered.
“Father is currently confined within the castle…… I seized control of the domain when I learned of his treachery. This is a scandal that can’t be discussed carelessly, so when I heard that a messenger from the elven country arrived I wondered whether or not to cover everything up.”
Petros’ expression became troubled as he told the story of the pair’s marriage.
According to him, Teresa was brought to this territory about a year ago, it seemed the former lord Londes bought her from a group of slave dealers from the capital. A certain person that witnessed this told Petros about it, and on the grounds of treason against the kingdom Petros fought with his father to gain control of the household.
They had wanted to prevent the entire affair from leaking into rest of the kingdom, but there was still the elf Teresa to deal with.
“If that’s what happened, why’d you marry him?”
Ariane was frequently turning her head as she tried to connect the dots of the story , even I was trying to make sense of the pair’s story and the current situation.
Petros suddenly leaped from his seat and began to talk about the situation like a song.
“It’s simple! I fell in love with her the moment I laid eyes upon her! My pitiful heart will forever be a prisoner of lo──”
Petros made exaggerated hand gestures as he whispered sweet words into the blushing Teresa’s ear before they gazed into each other’s eye’s and held hands again. It was like we’re watching a soap opera…… is someone around here gonna burst into spontaneous singing?
The old gentlemen in the back seemed glad about something as he looked at the pair with a slight smile on his face.
He seemed to be used to scenes like this, but constantly having to watch them drift off into their own little world was giving me a case of heartburn.
After seeing such a situation unfold in front of her in wide-eyed shock, Ariane was shaking her head in amazement.
“……Are you going to be all right here?”
Ariane’s question somehow managed to reach Teresa. Only pure concern for Teresa could be seen on Ariane’s face.
She was most likely worried about an elf and human living together. It’s likely she would had protested it more had it not been for the precedent Casey set.
Could she also be worried about the difference in life expectancy? Elves live an average of four hundred years, but a human like Petros could only live a hundred years at best. No, with this world’s poor medical care it’d be closer to sixty years. It’s all but ensured that Petros would die first. However, Teresa and the person in question must have understood that.
The pair shared another look before she gave a predictable answer.
“Yes. This is what I’ve decided.”
“If you say that you are okay with this, then I have nothing else to say…… I will inform your parents about this. What village are you from?”
Ariane had a slightly thoughtful expression as she understandingly offered to relieve Teresa’s parents and village of their worry.
“I’m from Milresto village. It’s a rather small village.”
Ariane seemed to have remembered something when she heard the name of the village. Teresa looked suspicious as she asked a question with her eyes.
“Recently a group of small villages, including that one, were combined into a single large village. It no longer exists.”
Teresa was shocked for a moment before she turned away in an attempt to hide a lonely expression.
Ariane’s mother Glenys had mentioned that the small villages near human dwellings had been absorbed into Raratoia.
Noticing Teresa’s distress Ariane quickly asked another question in order to change the topic.
“You said that the former lord is confined in this castle, but what happened to the slave traders?”
However, it was Petros who calmly answered the question instead of Teresa.
“Ah, the leader of the slave traders has already been executed. ……But it seems that the group held quite some sway thanks to my father’s backing and the stragglers managed to escape the city to become bandits once they realized their main source of income had been lost.”
Petros folded his arms and smiled wryly as he said that.
“Dealing with the underground market, the power struggle in the capital, as well as bandits outside the gate…… I have a headache.”
Hearing Petros’s story of bandits immediately reminded me of the group that had attacked the young adventures before we reached the town. Ariane looked back me and I nodded in confirmation.
“Hum, I don’t know if they’re the same bandits, but yesterday we helped some young adventures capture a group of bandits outside of town……”
Petros nodded as he listened to the story.
“There was a report about that. Ten more members of the group had been arrested yesterday, and even through more than half of the group has been captured……”
Pietro sighed deeply as he sunk back into his seat. Teresa got up to whisper something in his ear. Whatever she said shocked Pietro for a moment and he nodded before the pair looked in our direction.
“There’s something related to this, I would like to personally request something of the two of──”
Pietro had started to talk about something but Teresa stepped forward and interrupted him.
“Since this is my request, I’ll be the one to speak it.”
With a determined look on her face, Teresa looked at us and calmly opened her mouth.
“There is someone I’d like the two of you to find.”